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UFC 222 results from last night: Sean O’Malley vs Andre Soukhamthath fight recap

MMA: UFC 222-O’Malley vs Soukhamthath Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight strikers Sean O’Malley and Andre Soukhamthath squared off last night (March 3, 2018) at UFC 222 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Thanks to some blessed combination of a flashy striking style, unique appearance, and Irish descent, O’Malley has quickly become a fighter to watch. All the nonsense hype aside, “Sugar” is undoubtedly an exciting prospect, and this was a reasonable step up in competition for the knockout artist. Soukhamthath was being overlooked a bit on account of his opponent’s momentum, but the brick-fisted boxer could very well be undefeated (3-0) inside the Octagon if not for some questionable decisions. Regardless of the past, “The Asian Sensation” was excited to throw down with another striker and looked to add another knockout to his record.

O’Malley opened with a pair of low kicks that damaged the lead leg of his opponent. Soukhamthath hung tough, but “Sugar” continued to pick at his foe with kicks. Soukhamthath did not throw nearly enough volume, but he did connect on his first heavy right hand of the fight about 90 seconds in.

“The Asian Sensation” was waiting on his knockout blow, but in the mean time, O’Malley was picking him apart with rangy kicks and fast punches. O’Malley did an excellent job of avoiding counter blows by feinting constantly and giving his foe different looks, which makes it extremely difficult to time counters. In fact, O’Malley made his foe a bit desperate to land, creating his own opening to land a brutal counter cross.

Soukhamthath hit the mat, and O’Malley pursued. For the final 20 seconds of the round, “Sugar” chased the finish with a flurry of heavy punches, kicks, and spinning attacks.

It didn’t materialize, as Soukhamthath survived the round and came out swinging in the second. O’Malley avoided a good deal of the damage and went back to his original strategy, slamming Soukhamthath’s legs and body with a ton of hard kicks. In addition, O’Malley’s fast, in-and-out punches were landing quite effectively.

O’Malley got a bit wild and gave up a takedown two minutes into the round, but he immediately countered with a triangle. It was tight — as was the armbar attempt that followed — but Soukhamthath was able to escape and establish top position. Eventually, O’Malley reversed with a guillotine choke, finishing the round in top position with a rear naked choke nearly sunk in.

O’Malley absolutely dominated the opening 10 minutes.

Bizarrely, Soukhamthath went for a takedown to open the round, despite being in desperate need of a finish and nearly being tapped out a four times in the previous round. O’Malley defended, returning to the center of the cage and picking at his opponent with quick punches. The snap kick up the middle was a huge weapon for O’Malley, but a blocked kick seemed to badly hurt O’Malley’s leg.

Again, Soukhamthath made a terrible decision to immediately shoot after his foe’s leg seemingly shattered. He landed the takedown, but O’Malley only needed to survive for another few minutes to win. The fight moved to the feet very briefly and O’Malley made it clear he could not stand up on his own, but Soukhamthath decided to take him down again for no feasible reason.

Soukhamthath gave away a possible miraculous comeback that was gifted to him by O’Malley’s wounded leg, instead choosing to win the third round via uneventful top control.

O’Malley earned the decision win via a mix of insane toughness and excellent skill. On the feet, O’Malley’s switch-hitting and feints allowed him to utterly dominate a powerful striker. Until he injured his leg, O’Malley looked like a star. After the injury, O’Malley showed the type of guts that being a contender requires. He’s still got some things to improve upon in the grappling department, but O’Malley is deserving of his prospect status.

On the Soukhamthath side of the equation, this was perhaps the worst display of Fight IQ that I’ve ever seen. It tops Anthony Johnson trying to take Daniel Cormier down. All that Soukhamthath had to do to win was walk to the center of the cage and point down, because O’Malley couldn’t walk at all. Instead, he chose to wrestle, and O’Malley didn’t have to put any weight on his leg because he was laying on his back. It was astoundingly bad decision-making. It cannot be understated how baffling of a choice it was. Truly, truly awful.

Last night, Sean O’Malley impressed with his skill and grit to remain undefeated. Who should the flashy kickboxer face next?

For complete UFC 222: “Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya” results and play-by-play, click HERE!

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